Love without loyalty: This is how an open relationship works

Canadian researchers have found that open relationships are just as happy as monogamous ones. If you follow some rules.

It is one of those moments that would plunge many relationships into a deep crisis: Spouses Joy and Alan are lying in bed, and they have just shown each other an infidelity. But then Joy asks: “Do you want to sleep with her again?”. Alan hesitates, nods. And Joy says, “Me too, why do not we just keep doing that?”

This is the moment when the couple (Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh) from the recent British series “Wanderlust”, which started on Netflix, opt for an open relationship. And also in the US series “You Me Her” turns all seasons for a polyamorous threesome couple.

However, anyone who believes that this is just a Hollywood fantasy and has nothing to do with the lifeworld out there thinks wrongly: non-monogamous relationships are in vogue.

Open Relationship: Half of all Millennials want to live like this

Only half of the millennials (that is, people under the age of thirty) still regard a monogamous relationship as the ideal form of relationship, according to a US study by the You.Gov Institute. All others can imagine an open or a polyamorous relationship.
But what does it exactly mean? While an open relationship is mainly about having sex with other people in addition to marriage or a traditional two-person relationship, polyamory (an art term from the Greek poly = much and Latin amor = love) is actually an alternative form of life.

This is about having amicable and responsible love relationships with multiple people. Parallel. In contrast to the open relationship, falling in love is expressly desired. Polyamory is convinced that they can love more than one person at the same time.
Whether open or polyamorous – for many people this form of relationship just sounds like a license to cheat. Or a desperate attempt to save the relationship. After all, according to a You.Gov survey from the year 2017, every third German has alienated at least once.

So why not just change the rules? Because it sounds tempting for freedom and adventure, but it can not work in everyday life. But the jealousy makes you crazy – right?

What does psychology say about open relationships?

As far as the common prejudices, after all, most people in monogamous relationships are already unhappy when the partner only flirts with another person.
But Canadian researchers have now found out: Is not everything. According to a recent study by the University of Guelph, Ontario, people in non-monogamous relationships are just as happy as people in monogamous relationships.

“We found out that it does not matter if you’re living in a monogamous relationship,” explains Jessica Wood, head of the study, our editors.

She interviewed 140 people who live in a non-monogamous relationship (57 per cent in an open relationship, 30 per cent polyamory, the rest were swingers, ie, people who engage in peer dialogue and group sex). Their answers compared them to the answers of 200 people in monogamous relationships.

Too much pressure on one partner

“The structure of the relationship was for the happiness that people felt no matter,” says Wood. And this explains it this way: “We live in a time when the expectations of our love partners are enormously high: they should not only give us love and support but also to arouse our desire and provide sexual fulfilment – throughout the relationship “. Sounds like a lot of pressure. Why not distribute it to different people?

Experiences from an open relationship

Like Alicia (name changed by the editors). The 29-year-old has been in a polyamorous relationship for seven years. “From the beginning, we decided to open the relationship, first with the opportunity to engage in other sexual contacts,” she tells our editors.

From this, a polyamory developed. Her partner has had another girlfriend for four and a half years, and for two years he has a child together with her. Alicia herself had another partner for a year and a half.

The advantages of polyamory

The results of the study by Jessica Wood do not surprise her: “If something fits, it makes you happy,” she says. And she also says: It just depends on the partner, not on the relationship form.

The biggest advantage for Alicia in polyamory is the concession that she no longer has to live a “serial monogamy”. “Most of them already show that you can love more than one person, they just do it in a row – I do it in parallel,” she says.

The biggest drawback for Alicia on the polyamory: “Even my day has only 24-hours,” she says. You need a good time management so that nobody feels negligent. “It’s always a degree walk, that can quickly tip over.”

What happens when she “tilts” she herself experienced: When her poly-partner, with whom she was together for a year and a half, suddenly reported only sporadically. “That hurt, but it was his first poly-relationship, he was overwhelmed by the whole thing”.

If jealousy is not a problem

However, she is hard to fight with jealousy: “I trust my partner very much and I believe that jealousy is not a feeling that affirms love. On the contrary, it is always bound to its own fear of loss. ”

For all couples who want to open their relationship to other people, Alicia has the following tips.

Rules for an open relationship

  1. The communication must never break off: “You need a good base, you should always talk about your feelings and work on the relationship”.
  2. Being transparent: “The more I know, the less great my fears are. This includes, for example, telling the partner why you are interested in a particular person and what you do with the person. “
  3. Good time management: “You have to be respectful of others’ time and be careful that everyone gets enough attention.”
  4. Introduce a veto right: “I have to say sometimes: Now you do not meet her because I’m not feeling well.”

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